Italy names architect Piano, conductor Abbado Life Senators

Italian architect Renzo Piano, designer of the Shard skyscraper, attends a news conference at the Shard in London July 4, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

ROME (Reuters) - Italian architect Renzo Piano, one of the creators of the futuristic Pompidou Centre in Paris, and Claudio Abbado, former director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, were named Senators for Life, President Giorgio Napolitano said on Friday. Napolitano also appointed Elena Cattaneo, a specialist in stem cell research, and physicist Carlo Rubbia to lifetime seats in the Senate, an honor bestowed on former heads of state and distinguished personalities including some Nobel Prize winners. They join former Prime Minister Mario Monti and former President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in the upper house of parliament. "I am sure that the four Life Senators who have been chosen will make a special contribution to their extremely significant fields and - in absolute independence of any party political considerations - to the activity of the Senate and the whole parliament," Napolitano said in a statement. (Reporting By James Mackenzie, editing by Elizabeth Piper)